Leading your idea in print down its most profitable path…

So you’ve got an article or book idea that you want to turn into both big money and widely-seen expertise presence. That’s the way to think! I’d also add that the copy needn’t be completely rewritten again and again, so also think reprint, rewrite, reprint of rewrites, and more…

Let’s say you want to write about the 2016 Chicago Cubs and their playing in the coming National League baseball playoffs–and perhaps for the pennant, of all things! But, if you can’t tell, or wouldn’t want to tell, a baseball from a ball of wax, your idea and copy to sell again and again could be about the Trump-Clinton presidential election, kumquat delicacies from the kitchen, or driverless autos driving nonetheless on the streets!

Alas, I’ve been a baseball fan from/in Chicago almost since the Great Fire and the hapless Cubs haven’t won a pennant for 107 years. You know us by the fetching blue, red, and white “C” hats that we have had to hide in our cupboard for generations. Alas, this is our year, so we dusted them off and wear them on our heads for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and almost all the hours between—until October when we will know if the hex of the billy goat is true. So I’m picking the Cubs for this empire-building article writ long… (But if you’re reading this in the Philippines, on the Pyrenes, or in Peru, kumquat delicacies might be easier to understand…)

Let’s start with an article about the “plight of the Cubs” (or any fetching topic) for an American magazine. You do the usual things: some basic research to find the most interesting angles or slants, pick the best approach, and subject that idea to a two-pronged feasibility study—is it feasible to write and is it feasible to sell? (Go to the search box in the upper top right corner and type in feasibility study to see how the magazine approach works. The blog copy comes from either How to Sell 75% of Your Freelance Writing or The Travel Writer’s Guide. To read  those books, used and sold for a pittance, check the Amazon catalog.) The feasibility study tells how to test magazines vs newspapers, who are the most likely readers, the querying process, and (for magazines), should you get a “go-ahead,” how you best present the copy for sale. (If it fits newspaper freelance buying fields too, submit the written article in final form, without a query and sent in ready-to-go fashion.) If the idea is a “go” as feasible to write and sell, send your articles to the best markets in both categories.

If the magazine buys your submission, you can use much of the article’s contents again (at least slightly rewritten) two ways: as a reprint or a rewrite. Then if a rewrite is bought, you can send that off to a still-virgin magazine as a reprint. With cunning, you can have several of each of these three partially-completed masterpieces filled in (completed) and in print, all paying you! (Again, go to the Search box above and write in reprints or rewrites to see step-by-step blogs with more details.)

With newspapers, there are two paths: (1) you can literally sell the first copy to as many newspapers as will buy it as long as they aren’t “national” newspapers (like the New York Times, Washington Post, or the Wall Street Journal—sell them one at a time, and, after it is sold, thoroughly rewrite the piece before selling it to another “national”) and (2) don’t simultaneously sell it two or more regional newspapers within 100 miles of each other (‘distribution ranges”). Otherwise, you can sell the very same newspaper article(s) to any other newspaper (except the “nationals”) as long as they don’t overlap. Just tell the newspaper editor yours is a simultaneous submission and you are selling it outside of their 100-mile circulation orb.

What more can you do with reams of unused copy parts shouting to be read? Throw all the used copy into a cauldron, add the unused gems, mix them up again, and “topic spoke” them to find as many of the other potential eager buyers as will shriek and pay, delightfully, to use your genius and make you rich. Check the blog search for items about “topic spoking” in the 400+ blogs waiting to be used!

How many books can you pluck from that cauldron (adding in other sources still untouched)? You could write/publish a book for all kinds of Cubs’ aficionados: one for kids/young adults, one for the regular folk, another for seniors (some praying for the Cubs to win, others incredulous that they are anywhere near the top), another for the Cubs fans focusing on this year and the past two, another putting all 107 years in perspective, and so on.

And because each book requires a mound of research, interviews, anecdotes, photos, and more, you can turn this into new wealth of found and reworked copy and pluck out more articles, and thus more rewrites, reprints, and reprints of rewrites. You can also sell related photos where you sell copy (check photos in Search), often the same photo repeatedly since they are almost always sold on one-time rights.

Lost in this pile of print are the directly related spin-offs, like audiobooks of any or all of those books just mentioned; focus books about specific elements of baseball for the truly absorbed, of the past year or two or of all time, like the pitching, the records set and broken, ERAs, a projection of future years and records of new(er) players emerging in the 2016 excitement; even videos and movies, all being in print before being converted to other media. Then using the most visible of the platform builders, authors speaking about their (new) specialty from the platform: see rallies, speeches, how-to workshops, seminars, talks, and so on…

Every time your champion copy has your by-line attached to your super writing in a newspaper, magazine, or book, you are solidifying yourself as an expert in that field, building a following, and making yourself more wanted by information and product producers. They want to get more good items from you, a recognized “valuable and prolific source” of, in this case, baseball, Cubs, and sports ideas, information, and articulation.

The point here is that almost any word or idea has lots of legs (and ears) and can be multiplied very profitably many times by many means. The trick is to create interesting copy about ideas that others want to know more about that is spelled properly and has the facts, quotes, and anecdotes artfully blended into more good ideas. Most exceptional writers don’t stray too far from what others want to know, and they churn a fair amount of interesting text into many articles, then books, rather than just making one sale or two before wandering off to find unrelated subjects for articles that are also sold a few times. It’s wiser and fills your coffers faster by turning your related ideas and copy over and over.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

[ More how-to writing, publishing, and speaking stuff at www.gordonburgett.com/order3.htm. ]




A very new format for a seminar workbook...

In a now very long past—decades—I must have literally copied and carted 40,000 seminar workbooks (sometimes a half mile, too often up stairs). Most of those workbooks were 12-20 pages long! Too late to complain: that was the way it was done. But yesterday technology finally removed my shackles—and perhaps my blinders!

Some fact-setting now, then a detailed explanation copy of the new format that you may be interested in modifying and using. Explaining the 40,000: I have given more than 2,000 four-hour seminars, most as college/university extended ed offerings, almost all in California. They rarely had less than 20 participants, which meant 24 or so workbooks in case last minute registrants were waiting at the door. Ugh.

But yesterday a different request opened my eyes. I spoke to the NSNC (National Society of Newspaper Columnists) in L.A. about “Publishing for Profit” and, even though I myself had been a columnist several times, I had no way of knowing what other writing experiences the veteran audience had nor which of the dozen or so suggestions I would offer and expand upon they might wish to pursue.

Nor did I want to schlep any workbooks nor published books to sell BOR. (The airlines made that impossible anyway by charging for baggage—and rubbing in more salt by starving me en route!) But I did slip a copy of eight different books into my suitcase to display on a side table so they could see that they actually existed!

I know, I could have run copies off of the workbooks once I reached L.A. But I’m doubly convinced now, the day after, that the new format is many times better and smarter for the future, it gives the audience more options, and it reduces or eliminates the burdensome task of hauling products for sale. That’s why I’m sharing it now, while the fire burns, in case it would help you too. (If you have already discovered this “new” workbook process, congratulations! I’m sure you double agree! Why didn’t you tell me?)

The rationale: I knew that all of my attendees were writers, they used computers daily, understood how to find websites, blogs, and could figure out the free-book code. Therefore all I had to do was explain the media or means needed, where the items could be found, the links or addresses for each, and what the resource references referred to. I gave them the instructions needed in the first two paragraphs, where the program was going in the next two, and the broadest of explanations of what the four sections to be covered in the text that followed.

That took a minute or two to re-explain at the beginning of the presentation, but then I could focus on the most important ways columnists might earn more and live happier. When appropriate, I could direct them to one or several of the references and, in some cases, tell them the best subtitles to the critical step-by-step details. There must be 600+ printed pages in the three free books and 200+ in the other items. Thus, by knowing where the information is at hand, almost immediately, they can pick, select, or reject it as they wish—or go back later, if they change their minds.

The workbook: The two-sided page is the workbook. In this case the program was designed to show U.S. columnists how else they can share, market, and expand their written gems (now or later) into other lucrative venues or ventures. That is what I talked about. If they need the application guidance, the resources would then send them to the “how-to” support material.

Enough explanation. What follows is the “workbook” they received.


Workbook as delivered to the NSNC presentation:

 

Welcome!

I’m Gordon Burgett. It’s 2016, we’re all experienced writers, and the airlines won’t let me schlep boxes of handouts as baggage anymore, so I’m going to use the Internet to let you pick what specific information you think will be useful to you later. At that point, you can download what you want or need, if anything. The most important material is free, there’s no shipping or tax, and it’ll be in your hands almost immediately!

Thus you have no workbook or piles of paper to lumber through. Just sit back for the first hour and let me explain a sort of strategy and ways that should help you considerably increase your writing income, then I’ll answer any questions you have during the remaining 15 minutes. If you have more questions later, please email me at glburgett@aol.com.

My task is to help you fill your coin bags and increase your second-life options by doing more of what you already do very well—and make even more money (heavens!) by doing it.

I think the more-mullah quest starts with you strategizing at whatever point you are along your moneymaking-by-writing trail. I’ll address that.

The rest of our oral trek today roughly follows the other four sections on these pages. I’ve posted lots of backup resources here that you can download if/when you want or need them. The most important material is free—three full core books, three helper reports, four website articles, and 400+ blogs to pluck from. To download most of that information, use our order page at www.gordonburgett.com/order3.htm

 

Here’s how to download or see the resources: (1) find and separately order each free book on the order form—but before you submit each order write the coupon number [      ] in the coupon code box on that order form. Then submit the form, the price will drop to zero, and follow the download instructions that follow! (The freebies expire on 8/20/16.) Other items, unless noted, are from the order form and can be ordered separately or together at any time. They are also available from Amazon but if you want the three books free you must follow the instruction in (1). How to get the three free reports is explained below. See blog.gordonburgett.com for the blogs listed. Once there, find the SEARCH box, upper right corner under the Twitter logo. In that box enter either the topic you want to see more about (like query letters or niche) or the word I will give you. The website articles are from the direct website link location.

 

(I) WRITINGTravel Writer’s Guide (free ebook)

Explains how to sell 75%+ of your freelance writing (mostly newspaper and magazine articles), how to triple your income by topic-spoking, how to earn more with sidebars, and how to organize profit-packed copy-, quote-, and anecdote-gathering trips…

Related resources:

“4 Proven Ways to Sell 75% of Your Freelance Writing” Go to blog, enter 4 proven ways

“How to Sell 75% of Your Travel Writing” (2 cassette program), $20 + shipping

“25 Professional Query and Cover Letters” (ebook), $4.99

“Reprints, Rewrites, Reprints of Rewrites, and Resales” (ebook), $4.99

“The magic of topic spoking.” Go to blog, enter topic spoking

 

(II) PUBLISHINGNiche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time (free ebook)

A huge percentage of the risk-free, market-guaranteed book money is found here. We made $2 million from dentists and are now following the same path from K-12 school administrators, supers, principals, and school boards. That process and business plan is explained in this book. If you write and publish, almost all the niche profits are yours. If you find experts in the field, you direct/edit, they write, and you publish, most of the profits are still yours but the fame is theirs.

Related resources:

“12-Step Pre-Test for Niche Publications” (ebook), $4.99

“How to Test Your Niche Book before Writing or Publishing” (ebook), $9.99

“How to Get Niche Articles in Print 75% of the Time” (ebook), $2.99

(III) PUBLISHINGHow to Get Your Book Published in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days (free ebook). If you’re not niching, use the “open press” revolution plus Create Space/Kindle [Amazon] and Lightning Source as your first or major paths to building your own empire. Publish here, then (perhaps) try the major publishers.

 

Related resources:

“Open Book Publishing: Almost a Miracle! (ebook), $3.10

“When Would I Always (or Never) Self-Publish My Book?” Go to blog, enter self-publish

“12 More Ways to Turn Your Book into Many More…” Go to blog, enter more ways

“Focus books and Selling a Book by its Parts” Go to the blog, enter focus

“Sample Focus Book: Rights and Responsibilities of School Principals” (ebook), $3.99

“Sample Focus Book: How to Create the Best Staff Possible” (ebook), $3.99

 

(IV) BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHEREmpire Building (O.P., no replacement book yet.) Ultimately, for big money, expand the perception of your expertise through related information dissemination means, like speaking, seminaring, giving workshops or retreats, audiobooks, classes, consulting, social media venues, radio-TV, guest performances, and so on. Or create/sell little empires along the way. Or align your writing, researching, interviewing, and publishing skills with others’ empires. Or do it all.

 

Related resources:

“How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar” (4-cassette seminar), $40+shipping

“Six Special Tools That Get Speakers Booked First” (ebook), $9.99

MORE FREE REPORTS:

Lifelong Wealth by Being Indispensable

Finding Indispensable Article Topics

101 Niche Marketing Topics

Just subscribe to my newsletter (seldom sent) at http://www.gordonburgett.com/free-reports and all three reports are immediately downloaded. Nobody else ever sees your address. Then if you want to escape my elist, just email me to be removed. I’m not offended—I forget names instantaneously.


That’s it. If it helps, go to it.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett




How to make your friends smile gratefully all day long...

If this were addressed to you, how would you feel if it arrived unexpectedly in your email box ?


This year (2016), I’ve decided to send one email each day thanking someone who has enriched my life.

It could be someone who is close to me, like a family member or a friend.

It could be someone I have only met once or perhaps admired from afar.

It could be someone I have known for a long time or only momentarily.

TODAY YOU ARE THAT PERSON.
I APPRECIATE YOUR BEING IN MY LIFE.

Allen

P.S. Please know that there is no hierarchy here. In the past few days, your name and who you are in the world came to mind. When that happened I realized that I wanted to honor and thank you for enriching my life.


My reaction was delight and total surprise. So rarely is unsought, free kindness sent our way! If you want to use this model or concept, just do it. Change the names, of course. There are no copyrights or restrictions at all.

If your curiosity is stirred, here’s a pinch of background. Allen Klein and I are veteran writers/speakers who have met, mostly in passing at presentations, for years. He’s very funny and has written many books that I have enjoyed and shared, so I was indeed honored–and quite surprised–when it arrived. The next day it occurred to me that others may want to say the same or something similar to those they know. So I emailed Allen, thanked him for the thoughtfulness, and asked if my sharing the idea with others would be okay. His reply, almost immediate, was “Yes, please do share it. Imagine if we all did this! What a great world this would be.”

So now it’s in your hands to use as or if you wish!

 

(Allen Klein’s most recent book is You Can’t Ruin My Day. See more at humor@allenklein.com.)

 

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett
www.gordonburgett.com

 




Emceeing: a Barbershop St. Patrick's Day script

Welcome!

Here is another Barbershop presentation script–for those eager to read Barbershop presentation scripts. Enjoy!

I’m Gordon Burgett, blogmaster of my own blog, which you are now reading. 90% of the posts here refer to writing, editing, publishing, speaking, and related commentary about selling one’s ideas and information.

The other 10% discuss emceeing, which is an extension of my speaking activities, which are in turn linked to the 2000+ paid presentations I’ve offered in the past 30 years. Still, the scripts shared here are to a special group I have been part of for about 16 years: barbershopping, first in Santa Maria, CA; more recently in Marin County (north of San Francisco), CA. Through these blogs I have exchanged scripts written and techniques learned with other script writers for their barbershop groups. (You may see the other emceeing script info by writing in “emceeing” in the search box upper right on this page.)

So this is a short script when the Marin County Golden Gate group sang at a St. Patrick’s day gathering which I found in a box of past (but shamefully unblogged) emceeing material. I think it took place in about 2013. Sadly, I don’t recall anything more. I suspect it was in the middle of a speaking tour across CA when I came home that day to emcee and sing, and in the rush to get back out to complete the tour I forgot to leave any more details. That’s it. You can see that I’m a real person at www.gordonburgett.com!

————-

Here, from the depths, is the script of this mysterious presentation:

Good evening, we are the Marin Golden Gate Barbershop Chorus, directed by Phil DeBar. I’m Gordon Burgett, and this dapper fellow is our Associate Director, Paul Wren, who Phil is about to ask to lead the group in “Danny Boy.”
———-

[I’ve lost the actual text here but I must have introduced Phil DeBar, our Director, and he gave a short, audience-involved demonstration of what barbershopping is about. He had the audience sing one of the four voices in a short song, to try their talents at harmonizing!

Then I asked Phil to lead the Chorus in “Amazing Grace.”]

——–

I continued:

“We’ve already heard some of our favorite Irish music and we’re enjoying St. Patrick’s Day festivities and food, so maybe a few Irish jokes would be in order.

Father Murphy, infused by religious fervor, swept into a bar in Donegal.

He grabbed the first man he saw and said, “Do you want to go to Heaven?”

“I do, father!” the man replied, so the priest told him to stand by the door.

Father Murphy turned to a lively lass and he asked her the same question.

“Oh yes, father, I do.” So he pointed at the door and suggested she join the other man already there.

Then Father Murphy saw Billy O’Toole shrinking in a corner, trying to be invisible.

“O’Toule,” he said. “What about you? Do you want to go to heaven?”

“Oh no, thank you, Father. No I don’t!” came a fast reply.

The priest looked bewildered and said “Are you telling me that when you die you don’t want to go to heaven?”

O’Toole replied, “Oh yes, Father, I do–but when I die. I thought you were rounding up a group to go right now!”

——-

Are you ready for some more music? But let me ask you first,

Does anybody have a birthday today? If so, would you raise your hand?

(If a hand went up, I’d ask them to stand up and tell us something about themselves because we had a gift for them.)

(If nobody responded, I’d ask, “If any of you had a birthday in the past year, would you raise your hand?” The moment the hands went up, the chorus broke into “Happy Birthday!”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I wished them all when the music ended, then I suggested they give themselves a hearty round of applause for having lived so long!

——–

When the chorus sat I asked, “How about some grand quartet singing?”

Not only can our first group make great sounds, they are international imports brought here today for your merriment. They come from four places, all hot beds of melody: fellows, raise your hands when I tell where you are from: our bass, ____ from Uruguay; ____ , the lead from England; ____, the baritone, from Texas, and ________, our tenor, from the Bronx. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Opus IV!

————-

Our second quartet has lesser pedigrees—they come from Fairfax, San Rafael, Mill Valley, and Point Reyes. Let’s welcome ____, ____, ____, and ___ (they stepped forward when I gave their names). They are called the MarinTones…

————

You surely heard about Poor Paddy and his life of sorrow and pain. But things finally changed for Paddy–and it happened on St. Patrick’s Day too. He had found the love of his life, and had promised to mend his ways, particularly about not forgetting about their dates and that he would never again be as much as one minute late.

So you can imagine his distress when he arrived at the restaurant to dine with his sweetheart and he couldn’t find a parking spot!

Around the block he drove, then two blocks. He was in a panic when he pulled over and prayed: LORD, take pity on me! If you’ll find me a parking place I’ll go to MASS every Sunday of my life, I’ll quit drinking Irish whiskey, I’ll.…

Just then the car parked in front of him pulled out.

He looked to heaven and shouted as loud as he could, “NEVER MIND! I’ve found one!”

———-

How about two more songs from the Marin Golden Gate Barbershop Chorus, directed by Phil DeBar?

Get ready to “Turn Your Radio On…”, then a favorite oldie, “I Want a Girl Just Like the Girl That Married Dear Old Dad.”

——–

It’s surely unfair and unkind to mix an Irish holiday, an Irishman, and some of the best brewed Gallic grog in the same joke, but I’ve been given special permission from old Saint Patrick himself–because when I told it to him even he too couldn’t stop laughing…

It’s about Muldoon who had been out drinking into the wee hours, and one suspects it was not his first time either.

So he kicked off his shoes and crept into his house so he didn’t awaken his true love, Kathleen.

He was heading up to the bedroom but only made it up two steps before he fell backward on his rump.

Unfortunately, he had a bottle of whiskey in each back pocket!

But he was so afraid he might have made too much noise for Kathleen, he fumbled back on his feet, found a light, turned around, and dropped his pants. There in the hallway mirror he saw his own rear end cut and bleeding. So he found a box of Band-Aids, and put one on each place where he saw blood.

Then he crawled up the stairs, fell into bed, and was barely asleep when he saw that the sun was up–and he felt his lovely Kathleen pulling on his big toe.

“Muldoon,” she said, “you were out drunk again last night!”

“Oh,” he groaned, “Have mercy. Why would you say such a mean thing?”

“Because when I went downstairs the front door was wide open, there was booze bottle glass all over the floor, and there was a trail of blood from the glass right into this very bed!”

“But mostly it was because of those Band-Aids stuck on the hallway mirror!”

—–

I suppose there’s been a Muldoon in every house. Let’s sing two more songs to lift Muldoon’s holiday spirit. There’s no home on any holiday more forgiving than the HOME ON THE RANGE…or a promise more joyous than being “Once in Love With Amy…”

———

Finally, what day would be more appropriate for a miracle than a Saint’s Day? And who would be better equipped to shake loose that miracle than a local Irish priest driving back to Marin County from San Francisco after perhaps over-enjoying just such a celebration?

Father Timothy had just crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and was creeping down the hill when a cop pulled him over. The policeman leaned in, smelled the sweet aroma of alcohol, and saw an empty wine bottle on the car floor…

“Have you been drinking, Father?”

“Ah yes, officer, but just water.”

The trooper asked him, “Then why do I smell wine?”

The priest looked down, saw the bottle, and shouted “GOOD LORD! He’s done it again!”

————

Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of all of the chorus, we thank you for being such a welcoming audience. Let me once again acknowledge the MarinTones, Opus IV, and our director, Phil DeBar… [who asked Paul Wren to close the show with “America the Beautiful.”]




Writers: how to find more people to interview…

Sometimes you’re writing an article or story and try as you may you can’t think of or find another person to interview, other than your kids or some shlunk on the street corner. So what do you do?

Let’s start with an expectation that few new writers know about or think they might be able to tiptoe around: that almost every paying editor expects you to interview at least several (think three or four) people for your article—and what the interviewee is asked or says is directly related to what the article is about.

After I say that in my seminar about interviewing a rather bizarre question usually pops up: “Must the interviewee be living?” I imagine they are really asking if they can use quotes from someone who has passed or, perhaps, can they include interviews with aliens or ghosts or the like? In the second case, no. But quotes from the defunct, yes. Still, the quotes must come from a source that did once live–and the words must have been “captured intact” at that time, preserved, and passed down. Also, they can’t be “helped” to directly pertain to the subject at hand.

An example where this worked. I sold several articles about Dom Pedro II and his visit to the U.S. to open the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. All of the quotes came from a detailed diary that the King of Brazil kept during the visit that was published a few years after his death. I sent the editor a copy of the relevant phrases from the diary that I had translated from Portuguese. No problem.

Thus historical comments from the living or dead might provide background information and, sometimes, direct quotes that apply as said.

The best way not to get caught without interviewees is to read many other articles or accounts about the topic and note all vital information you can about their speakers or authors. The challenge is finding those publications. Your librarian will show you the “trace” books, if needed. “Google” will too, as will the company or college they work for.

Another way, if the topic is being actively discussed in the media, is to find all of the related interplay in print: who is taking part, their position, the group or association they represent, anything else that gives a clue. And if you only have one side of the topic, ask the speaker defending that viewpoint the names of the three most frequent (or best) speakers on each side of the issue—plus for phone or mail contacts.

Or delve more deeply into the topic. Specifically: a cure for Parkinson’s disease, how to get ahead (and stay ahead) of road deterioration, one-world currency, age-based income equity? Focus as much on the best brains and problem-solvers in each field. Mine their expertise. Ask who you should contact to get a solid exchange.

Said another way, ask the best informed expert(s) on the topic if they could (or would) identify the top minds in their field, the top three or so best informed people who would identify the most important questions that must be asked, then offer their thoughts about possible answers or solutions to each. Sometimes that works. Sometimes they laugh uncontrollably, step back, and stare at you like you’ve just overdosed on your own brew!

Another way is to simply ask the chosen person after you finish interviewing them, “Would you point me to another expert as well informed as you that I can interview so my editor will have two points of view for his/her pages?”

Or just ask the shlunk on the street corner and take your chances. I did just that in a piece about the huge Schloss in Heidelberg. Seems there was a giant crack in a wall large enough to march an army through. So I asked a fellow just standing next to me if he knew anything about that crack and why the wall didn’t just collapse or slide down? He smiled, then gave me an eloquent, point-by-point response! When finished, I applauded his knowledge (and clarity of expression). He smiled even more, then told me that he was a professor of architecture at the University of Heidelberg!

If in this somewhat rambling blog there is guidance that helps you, great.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. You can’t just interview yourself, sadly. Such wit and erudite articulation untouchable! But if you have solid quotable comments in an article, book, or publication about the topic, you can say something like: “…in my 2016 book about … I mentioned that …” A bit awkward, alas, but better than just saying, “Somebody once said …”

I will be writing a book about interviewing soon. If that interests you, please stay tuned.

– – – – –




Origin of the phrase "out in left field"

Chicagoans gave birth to the term “out of left field” about 100 years ago. The left field in the pre-Wrigley playing grounds butted up to a many-storied insane asylum, and when the crowds made too much noise the lunatics screamed out the windows and banged on pans. Their comments truly were “out of left field.”




Author of Self-Publishing Manual, Dan Poynter, has died...

The author of the best-selling Self-Publishing Manual, Dan Poynter, has died. We were “in the trenches” writing friends and I already miss him, in part because it was Dan’s turn to buy lunch. So will thousands more whose lives he touched and changed. He had been quite ill for a while, seemed to be improving, but, instead, Dan passed away a few days back.

Poynter wrote almost 100 books but he was best known for his Self-Publishing Manual, now in its 14th edition. Many of us exploring the hinterlands of “doing-it-ourselves” publishing, with our starter books (rarely sought, even more rarely bought), pounding away on clunky typewriters and wading in rubber cement, wandering through the last days of the past century, when up popped his how-to gift. The SPM was a light from heaven. It answered questions we didn’t even know we should ask. As Dan learned more, the book kept getting better and bigger. In short order his grateful fans, hat in hand, too often bruised by the titans from Gotham and other bookstore bulk buyers, turned his manual into a huge seller…

Dan was a close friend of mine for lots of decades. We’re a few weeks apart in age (he would never admit it), I lived about 20 miles away, and we seemed to wander into the same ersatz gatherings and adventures, befriending many of the same odd people, and we quietly joined the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)—Dan helped birth it—and the National Speakers Association (NSA).

He was a tall, quiet fellow who gave freely of his knowledge. Many know that he was President of the Parachutists Assn as well. He joked that he married the thrill of descent (he was a life-long bachelor), and was faithful to the end.

In fact, rather than using his law training Dan set up and ran a loft in Oakland. His publishing career (and life) started when he couldn’t find a book about parachute knotting that his clientele needed, to get licensed. “I knew as much about publishing as some poor soul tapping rubber trees for a living,” he told me. So he contacted every company however involved with knotting and made copies of the diagrams and instructions they sent back, pulled them into a $40 three-ring instruction manual, wrote the conjunctive copy, then bought a dandy house near Goleta (Santa Barbara) from the profits. It overlooked the Pacific Ocean east of the UC Santa Barbara. From his front porch you could see the only American mainland target attacked by the Axis in World War II, an oil tank sighted by the misdirected Japanese Navy.

I first met him at a free lunch where Xerox was showing their brand new copiers to a bevy of hungry writers (becoming publishers). We passed on the street a couple of times but we didn’t really meet again until he tried to kill himself (inadvertently, he claims) by falling 100+ feet straight down and almost impaling himself on a volleyball net pole on East Beach. He had written (or was writing) a book about Parasailing (or was it Paragliding? He also wrote a pile of other weird books). There was a slack in the tow rope and he found himself stalled in midair! Alas, the pause was miraculously timed–a gaggle of bone doctors taking a break from a convention happened to be playing volleyball when he dropped in on them! He was nearly killed. A few days later, in the weakest voice hearable, he called and asked if I’d take his newest book to the ABA in Los Angeles the next week. I did (when I found out what the ABA was), and that started a long string of lunches, Gold Coast meetings (a sort-of branch of NSA), and so on…

Dan had a sense of humor, much of it hoarded internally. He didn’t have time (or much patience) for editing would-be books sent for his help by adoring fans. He threatened to farm them all off to me, and rarely he couldn’t help himself: I would get a DOA bundle (with a spine) in the mail with a note daring me to make sense and save the soul of the hapless scribe of the offending manuscript. The note usually mentioned that I was the only person who could get the author in print since the bundle was so much like my own books!

A final story. Dan gave weekend gatherings for book creators at his palace. The couple of times I spoke there he would hold up one of my early books and tell the attendees that it was certainly not how to design your own cover–and that he had bought a couple of copies of the book so he wouldn’t run out of such a pitiful display. I told him I was hunting for some hole in one of his books, the table of contents lost in the index, upside-down chapters, or something equally egregious for revenge. But I never found anything out of place–and now he’s left before me and the fun is gone.

Dan Poynter was a smart fellow and already is a much missed friend.

Gordon Burgett




Writers: How to Write in Financial Comfort Even in Old Age!

There are ways to do what the title says—and about 1000 other ways that guarantee writing penury, most about as lucrative as begging for or selling writing pencils on the street! I’ll not foul this blog by describing how you can find cliche distress or dangling destitution—poverty you can find on your own. Or it will find you, particularly if you’re lazy or wreyete horroribly!

For the rest of you wordsmiths overflowing with words, wit, proper punctuation, vivid imaginations, and computers that spell well, here’s what an old writer thinks are the most likely paths to help you at least end up paying your own bills—and comfortably at ease between now and then.

We can eliminate some kinds of writing at the outset, like essays and poetry. Verse may be the showcase of a mastermind, but 99%+ of the poets, bless them, even when in rhyme don’t have a dime.

Let’s focus on the four paths that make the most cents.

Geniuses could secure comfort if they could express their wizardry in lucid, sought prose, then link themselves to vendors who could harness, package, and sell their brilliance. (So much for geniuses.)

A harder path would be from the bottom up, from stringer to city editor to editor-of-editors. Theirs might be the bobbing path of nervous comfort while publishing mastheads sink into the sea. Editing excellence may have to be mixed with the deft art of vessel leaping, derring-do in life preservers, afloat, preserving words and news while awaiting the calm. Still, in business and government there may be a million jobs that have a writing core. They pay well and keep the faithful comfortable during retirement. Some of the greatest writers had their day jobs there, and bloomed into fame from the product of their nighttime/weekend passions.

Fiction writers have the privilege of inventing comfort when needed, of living where their imagination takes them to find solace. But to have enough coin to eat and stay warm as needed requires that they cook up a tasty singular plotstew of people, purpose, and place that readers want, then keep that blend boiling until their culinary/literary fame makes them well rewarded. For most this is surely the hardest way to spend a life fed solely by writing.

The fourth path is obvious but its luster is so unseen by the everyday public that most miss its truly gilded glow. These are the folks who write for close-knit bonds of workers. They define their niches—surveyors, goat breeders, school principals—and write books or create how-to guides or give workshops transformed into BOR tomes about what every member of the group needs to know to do what they do better. Most also speak professionally about what they write. And if their primary field folds or changes form they reform their knowledge to match the new configuration, get the groups’ email addresses and sell their solutions to their associations and their members. They have ready-made followers eager for every applicable word that they write or speak. When they write articles, they know specifically who will read them and what they need or want to read. Their blogs are avidly awaited, they use social media to enhance their expertise, and as they get known and grow older their demand grows proportionately. They’re probably too busy to be too comfortable in their prime years, but they could have a self-generating empire that would keep them very comfortable as they age. The downside? Who knows they exist (comfortably or at all) and who reads their chosen words, other than the tight circle of their followers.

That’s it. Musing about how those fed by the flames of imagination and word-molding are most likely to be able to be comfortably closer to their preferred mode of creation longer and freer from debilitating or impoverishing distractions.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. I write books and speak their messages, mostly. Some are published by others, while I also publish niche books, all of which I edit but are written by others. Here is a list of those books that are currently available. (Oh yes, I’m also old.)




Where might your bio and sales info do you the most good?

If you are digitally displaying your achievements and the products/skills that you have for sale, where might that be shown to your best advantage? Even if it’s only done to delight your kids, prove your prowess to your spouse, or put some strut in your aging parents’ prance, where might they most likely (and logically) see it?

Maybe at your website, where you can hide almost anything in its most exquisite, self-defined detail?

Or, in miniature, in your social media profiles?

Yesterday I became convinced that at least for writers, speakers, and publishers maybe the best shout sheet would be at our Author Central page at Amazon.com.

I concluded that from a dandy multi-segment workshop given by three BAIPA leaders at the monthly (second Saturday) gathering in Novato, California. (BAIPA is the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Publishers Association.) According to David Cutler, Judy Baker, and Ruth Schwartz, we would be woefully derelict if we left anything unrevealed at that site.

Why would Amazon be the prize listing site for our bios and the related exposition of products, services, and current or coming activities? Because far more buyers go to or through Amazon to buy paperbacks, ebooks, and audiobooks (plus batteries, kettles, and harmonicas, etc.) than anywhere else. And more eyes usually mean more buys of our printed or spoken gems! (You don’t publish through Amazon? You can list all other products there too.)

What can you include there to prove to the hungry public that you know your stuff and that your knowledge is immediately (and wisely) purchasable? Your books (bound or digital), audiobooks, articles, blogs as they appear, a long introduction, photos, videos, events (present and future), plus more…

How can others review and use this well presented repository? You can link them there, put a widget at your website, or they can just put your name up at Amazon.com and your Author Central info will appear—if you create it, which is fast and free.

I know, others have to go through Amazon to reach it. That bothers me too. But I will simply explain to them that it is where they can find the best and most recent list of my publications and services–and give the link or widget.

That’s it. I felt a bit stupid being all but unaware that Author Central existed despite the fact that Kindle and Create Space sell lots of my books (as do several other publishers, and us too). But I will use it often now. I’m interested having them hawking the existence of my words, wit, and (rumored) wisdom 24 hours a day, though I hope they keep that display some distance from the kettles and harmonicas.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. There’s an obvious exception to the Amazon answer to this blog’s query: if you are a niche-oriented publisher or speaker, the best location would be in niche-related places. You are unlikely to be selling through Amazon.com. Two very unlike business models! (See my blogs about niche publishing if this is unclear. Just write niche publishing in the “search” box in the upper right corner.)




Emceeing: another modest example, from 7/5/15

(I was asked by a group of performers/students for some sample emceeing scripts four years ago, so here is my occasional response. This time I was asked by our Barber Shop interim director, Paul, if I’d do the emceeing for the Marin County Fair, in San Rafael, about 20 miles north of San Francisco. But there were restrictions that might affect the show, he said.

I suspected that meant I’d have to wear an embarrassing costume or, horrors, the singers would also have to dance. It was time limitation. I think we usually sang for 45 minutes. This year it would be 30. Easy enough. Either I say less, say it faster, we sing fewer songs, or if we were running out of time we’d improvise on the spot, probably by reducing the number of songs at the end.

Paul chose 10 songs, none lasting very long, and I trimmed too, so it ended right on the button, without rushing. It was a grand day too: sunny (we were in a large tent), a whiff of breeze, and maybe 80 degrees. Lots of attendees, meaning that by the end of the show our “hall” was almost full. (That’s typical: the first song is clapped at, with huge relief, by our wives and visiting cousins—relief because we all got on the stage and nobody, yet, had stepped or fallen off. By the end of the short show most of the people passing by and hearing patriotic songs they knew had gathered up, and many sat down. This crowd was active, vocal, and seemed to enjoy the program a lot.

You might also notice from the script below that we start by singing, then we introduce ourselves and welcome the curious on-lookers.

The only other item that might pique your curiosity is the reference to the plea for rain that we would sing for. It’s very dry in California, and our area is no exception, so when the song ended and I had asked them to join the plea when we, the singers, raised our hands to heaven, the audience did too, and laughed and some even clapped.

That’s it. This is a simple script—hard to go wrong with six jokes that funny—but not atypically it took several hours to write and prune. And on the stage it felt like it lasted two minutes! Happy holiday!

SCRIPT: July 5, 2015

MUSIC

AMERICA, THE BEAUTIFUL

Welcome to America’s 239th birthday, even if we’re a day late. We are the Marin Golden Gate Barbershop Chorus. It’s our honor to be invited to stir your patriotic blood again at the Marin County Fair. Last year our singers gave me the five of the funniest Independence Day jokes ever told, to share. Many are still laughing. So we are doing it again this year. Six jokes rather than just five! (You need not applaud.)

But music first. We just heard AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL. How about I’M GONNA SIT RIGHT DOWN AND WRITE MYSELF A LETTER? Then we’ll add a special song in honor of today. It’s called TODAY.

Apropos, today, July 5, we are led by our proudest display of brotherhood, a true Tory himself, Maestro Paul Wren.

MUSIC

Yes, it’s time for three of the funniest patriotic jokes ever told. Ready?

* If rats and cockroaches lived in George Washington’s home, you know what we’d call it? MT. VERMIN.

* You know what you call a fake patriot? UNCLE SHAM.

* You know what the call the protest that dogs held in 1773?
THE BOSTON FLEA PARTY.

That’s enough, three jokes at a time, so you don’t hurt yourselves…

Here’s a song for your sweetheart, your spouse, or your country. It’s called I DON’T KNOW WHY I LOVE YOU LIKE I DO.

It’s followed by a tune you all know, a kind of national prayer:
GOD BLESS AMERICA…

MUSIC

I see some of you duffers of all ages moving your mustached lips just wishing you were up here harmonizing and that you could have a red shirt like ours. So when we finish today please come up to the stage and get a card that tells how to join in. You needn’t be Caruso. If you can carry a tune and it won’t drop on your foot, come and have fun…

One more thing: you see that building over there? That’s where we put on our annual show—this year it’s on the second to last Sunday in November, the 22nd, at 2 p.m. We have some super champion quartets joining us—and we hope that all of you, of all genders, will too…

How about two more songs? Most of our chorus members are married, so for them and their suffering brides, we will sing WHEN THERE’S LOVE AT HOME. And yes, alas, some of our singers are singles—they are probably wearing white socks, or one white sock—so the second song is for them, a deterrent to despair called HELLO MARYLOU.

MUSIC

I owe you three more bell-ringers before we finish with three foot-stomping tunes…

Are you ready? They’re dangerously funny so hold on.

* If you crossed a vegetable with our first president, what would you get? GEORGE SQUASHINGTON.

* What quacks, has webbed feet, and betrays his country? BENEDUCK ARNOLD.

* And what would you get if you crossed a famous, fat founding father with a famous monster? BENJAMIN FRANKLINSTEIN

Should we give these brave singers a round of applause before they launch into the last medley?

And let us give you a hearty thank you for actually applauding our vocal efforts. Our first final song is a plea to the weather gods, called RAIN. When we plea for moisture by raising our hands at the end, please join in! (The trees will thank you.)

Then we’ll take you rain hunting when we RIDE THE CHARIOT!

And the last song you know. Why not join us singing the last verse? (To the blog readers, it was the STAR SPANGLED BANNER.)

MUSIC

END OF PERFORMANCE. (Singers fall off of stage.)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

(There are several earlier emceeing samples at this site. Write emceeing in the search box upper right and all—or most—will appear.)